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WHM Reclaiming Their Time – Three Iron Butterflies of the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries

March 26, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

The “Women’s HERstory Month” committee is so excited to have assembled another incredible month of inspiring stories and performances to celebrate Women’s History Month. For the 2021 WHM theme, we decided “Iron Butterflies” would be the inspiration for all shows. This was the symbol used by the Suffragists to show determination and strength. We realized it lent itself as a perfect metaphor to exemplify what we have all experienced in the year 2020. The quarantining, similar to the cocoon; then reinvention and regrowth, such as the transformation of the chrysalis to caterpillar; to vaccination and ultimate survival – the triumphant butterfly!

Three dramatic monologues by three “hidden figures” of women’s history.

There will be a Q & A after each show


Defying the Odds; Anne Lister, Lesbian and Landowner in the 19thC by Deb Severo (Performed by Shannon Muhs) Anne Lister (1791-1840) is best remembered as a diarist and lesbian lover who recorded all her experiences and fantasies about women in secret code. Anne was an extraordinary woman for her time and led a colorful life as a landowner, industrialist and adventurer. Tonight’s show captures the highlights of her journey to find love, as a lesbian, in the early 1800’s.

Deb Severo took her first acting class, Cold Reading, with the Actors Studio in 2016, and absolutely loved it! She “cut her teeth” with playwriting, character and scene development, with coaching from Marc Clopton,  Anna Smulowitz, and Writers and Actors INC at the Studio, in her effort to bring her late partner’s musical, Conflict of Interest, to the stage, at the Firehouse Theater for the Arts, October 4-13, 2019. This is her first attempt writing a monologue.

“ I was so taken by the story of Anne Lister, who I feel was truly an Iron Butterfly; her strength, courage and perseverance in the face of adversity transformed her life, and all those who have followed her example to be authentic, and to love yourself for who you are. It’s been a privilege to write this piece about Anne Lister for HerStory, and I appreciate the opportunity.”


I Have Seen it So by Judith Strang-Waldau – Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898) was a tireless advocate for the Native American people of upstate New York as well as the rights of women during the 19th century.  An honored European -American member of the Wolf Clan, she observed the social and political equity given the Haudenosaunee women and passed the knowledge of these values and freedoms on to her suffrage sisters.  (Performed by Kim Holliday)

Judith Strang-Waldau began writing in 2011 to create dialogue around social justice issues. Her full-length plays include Women of Ararat (surviving the Armenian Genocide), produced at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Boston, and Wellesley College’s new play series in 2015. Her play Rockabye (redefining family in the 21st century) was produced at the MCA in 2017. The Stringed Muse and Olly Olly Oxen Free (reclaiming one’s treasures and identity post Holocaust), and Metronome (navigating the life of an autistic child) are her more recent plays. Judith’s numerous short plays have premiered at the Boston Playwrights Theatre, Firehouse Theatre, and The Actors Studio of Newburyport. She is the co-founder of Two Sharp Quills, a production company for New England playwrights who identify as women. Ms. Strang-Waldau was a marketing specialist for Olympia Dukakis’ former Whole Theatre in New Jersey, and Circle in the Square Theatre in New York.


Portrait of A Radical by Leslie Powell gives voice to, Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin born in 1863 Pembina, North Dakota of a Ojibwa/Chippewa mother and a French father.  She was a prominent advocate on behalf of Native women and on Native Americans’ position in mainstream America.  She worked for the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.  and was the first indigenous woman graduate from the Washington School of Law in 1914.  She became involved in the suffrage movement and the Society of American Indians and over time instead of assimilation, Marie emphasized the value of traditional Native cultures while asserting her own place in the modern world as an Indian woman. Performed by Fontaine Dollas Dubus.

Leslie Powell’s plays have been read and produced throughout the U.S. and in Toronto, Canada as a part of the InspiraTO Festival.  You can see her most recent work, a Zoom Play Winner: from the Actors Lab of Santa New Mexico 2020, via the link on the title: “Take That Thing Off” .  Before moving to Tucson, Arizona, Ms. Powell was a long-time resident of Newburyport, Massachusetts where she co-founded, with Hailey Klein, Writers & Actor, Ink and Random Acts, a play-in-a day festival.  She also co-founded, with Marc Clopton and Ron Pullins, North Shore Readers Theatre Collaborative.  Ms. Powell is proud to be a part of HerStory and deeply grateful to Sally Nutt, Fontaine Dubus, Josh Fagin and each member of the hard-working team to bring these important women to life.


Register here for the March 27, 7pm performance

Register here for the March 28, 5pm performance 


March 26, 2021
7:00 pm
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